This week’s DP(writing)Challenge is, for me, a bit more challenging than what we have been presented with thus far. We are asked to identify an element of a favorite writer’s style and discuss or demonstrate how that style has influenced our own writing. I wish I could report vast (or even cursory) explorations into poetry, history, biographies, etc., but I must admit that most of my reading is confined to popular culture and fiction.
That said, I must also state that my reading preferences are often influenced as much by the thickness of the book as by any other factor. A long book, especially if it is by a familiar and accomplished author is, for me, has the potential for days- or even weeks-worth, of enjoyment as I make my way, chapter-by-chapter through the tale he or she is telling. Here are a few of my favorites:
- James A. Michener, Hawaii (1959), Texas (1985), many others – Michener was a master of sagas, describing the most minute details of the generations, geographies, and history that populated his novels. One of the features of his books I always enjoyed was that what seemed like the most throw-away detail in the early pages of a story ended up being pivotal at the end, often more than a thousand pages later.
- John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989) – I can’t tell you how many times I nearly gave up on the detailed narrative of apparently inconsequential events and circumstances in this tale of Vietnam-era America, but the book’s surprising and very powerful ending made every minute I spent worthwhile.
- J. K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series (1997-2006) – the lasting impression I have of this series is the degree of attention the author paid to the details of the story. Her series seemingly describes the life and times of several major characters over just a few years but, in reality (or in fantasy), she chronicles the intricate and intense relationships of many characters over several centuries. The interaction of Rowling’s characters is engaging and entertaining but, in retrospect, the most fascinating aspect of the series is how she managed to keep the stories and relationships straight throughout the series.
By now I’m sure it’s obvious that, for me, the common thread among these authors is how detail-oriented each of them was in terms of crafting their stories. Having confidence in their respective writing styles let me, on the one hand, relax and enjoy the story and, on the other, made me a more attentive reader because I knew I would miss important details if I didn’t read in an active, engaged way.
So how does this relate to my own writing? While I have no expectation of ever writing anything approaching the complexity of these novels, I do try to try to attend to details even in the short pieces presented here. As much as possible, I want each word I use to be the very best choice for the context of the post, and I read and re-read each post to ensure it is as concise and grammatically correct as I know how to make it. I don’t aspire to a large readership, but I do appreciate the time and effort other bloggers, especially regular readers, commit to visiting and commenting on my posts, so I strive to make each one worth the time they take to read it.